I crossed last spring with a crew of 5 (total) on my GS 52. Here are my additions to the conversation:
(1) The bimini
provided a great degree of comfort during the trip. It was the "hang out" spot during the day and was rolled up at night to facilitate viewing the spar fly.
(2) We did not use the autopilot
much - during the day we flew spinnakers (up at breakfast/down at dinner) and, given our wave pattern, the autopilot
was not fast enough. Plus, we hated running the engine
to recharge the batteries - noise
etc (only 40 gal for the Cape Verde
to Rodney Bay run). Once we hit the trades (with a crew of 5) we preferred to hand steer.
(3) Wunderground, passageweather et al tend to understate the wind
velocities you will experience. (4) We determined that satphones (we had 2) were a better use of our cruising $$ than SSB
(of course, with an unlimited budget
you'd be crazy not to add the SSB). Folks onshore later raved about our occasional blogs about life at sea and incoming text messages are free. We established a set "listening hour" for folks to call, but only got one call.
(5) SPOT is an amazingly effective, cheap
technology - we sent a SPOT message each day at a set time to my wife, who forwarded it to the larger group that was tracking our progress, allowing a large group to feel involved for $1/day. It worked, even when our satphone/email system was being balky.
(6) experienced downwind Transat/Transpac guys tape the foam you use to insulate water
pipes to spreaders to minimize mainsail
chafe on the spreaders. I suspect that's what you see in the photo
- sections of foam tubes wrapped with duct tape. We didn't and our main survived (sort of, it's being replaced for other reasons), but the aft side of our spreaders took a beating and look like someone took a hatchet to them.
(7) We added 30- 6 litre jugs to the main water tanks
of the boat. The water jugs were "drinking water only", set up on a sort of "water cooler" arrangement where each crew could fill their individual water bottles. One crew was designated "water czar" to track water use and release new jugs for use (only this crew could open a new jug). This worked well and we got to St. Lucia with 5 bottles left (and water in the main tanks
as well as several gallons of fruit juices, etc). We had a moderate crossing, but in 2009 many boats had very, very slow crossings with some boats taking 39 days to cross -- if you are not tracking carefully you can get in trouble.
(8) With respect to food
- tuna fish
, sold in euro 2.5 kg cans much larger than found in the U.S. is a great source of protein that is tasty and does not need to be refrigerated. We used it in salads and with pasta with canned peas (or other veggies), olive oil
, & garlic (we had 3 Italian cooks on board that created awesome mediterranean
diets as well as fresh bread and pizza).
(9) we found certain unbaked euro bread products that lasted forever w/o refrigeration
and when put in the oven
were great (brownies were also a great treat). Italians do not refrigerate eggs (and I'm here to tell the tale). Cook your pasta in a 50/50 mix of seawater & ships water to save on ship water use. Wash dishes in saltwater w saltwater foaming soaps, light rinse in fresh.
(10) Don't count on catching any fish
(other than flying fish). Hopefully you will be going too fast for any but the fastest fish to catch your lure.
(11) We had to go a lot further south than we wanted to get to the trades, but the Cape Verde
Islands were a very pleasant stop, so don't fight it if that's where the god's direct you.
(12) Everyone had a digital camera
-- before we left we put them all on one memory stick and duplicated it so everyone had a full set. Bonus!